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In March 2015, the Council stopped accepting new applications for specialty recognition, pending a review of the existing method. As MI previously reported, examination of credentialing areas of medical practice will form part of the review.
In the UK, the General Medical Council has consulted on introducing regulated credentials. However, in other jurisdictions, credentialing and privileging have tended to operate as clinical governance processes.
“The review will be undertaken by an external third party who will be identified through the Office of Government Procurement framework,” a spokesperson for the Council told MI. “The contract has not as yet been awarded but we expect that this will have happened by the end of July 2016.”
The process review and any recommendations arising from it will be with reference to the existing Section 89(1) of the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.
Asked if the suspension of the specialty recognition process was on its risk register, the Council’s spokesperson said it has a ‘standing item’ relating to “the appropriateness of Council’s regulatory framework as it relates to medical education and training”.
They added: “The controls and mitigations relating to this risk include the periodic review of standards and processes to ensure that they remain fit for purpose, and meet international best practice. A review of the process by which aspirant specialties are evaluated is part of this quality assurance activity to ensure best practice is adhered to.” The Council had advised all postgraduate training bodies of the suspension and has not received any new requests for recognition since this communication.
Military medicine was the last specialty to be recognised under the existing mechanism. Before the pause, MI was aware of the intent of relevant colleges to develop cases for forensic psychiatry and forensic pathology as examples.